May 27, 2010 / 7:53 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Tesla says Toyota deal on electric cars not formal

(Updates with details on plant deal, Q1 sales and background)

* No formal deal with Toyota on electric car development

* Toyota’s $50 mln investment expires if no IPO by Dec. 31

* Says purchased Calif. car plant for about $42 mln

By Poornima Gupta

SAN FRANCISCO, May 27 (Reuters) - Electric carmaker Tesla Motors said on Thursday it has not struck a formal deal with Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) to develop electric vehicles.

The California start-up said in an amended registration statement for its initial public offering that it had “announced an intention to cooperate” with Toyota.

“However, we have not entered into any agreements with Toyota for any such arrangements, including any purchase orders, and we may never do so,” the filing said.

In a stunning move last week, the two companies announced their partnership at Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California, attended by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Toyota chief Akio Toyoda, who flew to the United States for the joint news conference.

But new details from Tesla cast doubts on the relationship between the companies, which would give the Japanese automaker a chance to repair its public image and propel the California start-up onto the world stage.

Tesla also said in the filing that Toyota’s agreement to buy a $50 million stake in the start-up would lapse if its stock is not launched on the public markets by the end of this year.

Toyota will take the stake in a private placement to close immediately after Tesla’s initial public offering.

CHALLENGES FOR MODEL S

The carmaker, best known for its $109,000 electric Roadster, said it purchased a plant Toyota closed in the San Francisco area for about $42 million and expects that deal to close within a few months following Tesla’s initial public offering.

The deal includes 207 acres, or about 55 percent of the land at the site, but excludes manufacturing equipment, which is likely to be auctioned off over the next several months.

The factory will be used to make the lower-cost Model S electric car, which will have a base price of $49,900 and is expected to be produced in 2012.

The carmaker has been offered $465 million in low-cost loans by the U.S. Department of Energy to help in the manufacturing of the new model.

The plant, previously jointly owned by Toyota and General Motors in a venture called New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI), has the capacity to produce about 400,000 vehicles a year, although Tesla’s plan for Model S production is likely to be far less than that.

Tesla said in the filing that it faces significant challenges in producing the Model S, the car that is expected to help them achieve profitability. The carmaker currently only has a drivable early prototype of the Model S, but not a full production-ready prototype or final design, the filing said.

The company also revealed the Model S is likely to be built with batteries that can be swapped out, if needed.

Providing updated financial results, Tesla said its revenue for the first quarter of this year was flat at $20.81 million compared with the same period a year ago, while its net loss widened to $29.5 million. (Reporting by Poornima Gupta; editing by Andre Grenon)

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